By Jennifer Michael Hecht
It's O.K. to keep hearing your worries, so long as you
stop talking to them. Shun them like a double-crossed Quaker.
Imagine how quiet it would be, like shutting off the droning ocean.
That's how our parasites must feel about our hearts.
What a racket, all that pumping. Shut up shut up.
Cicero said Chrysippus said that the life in a pig is a preservative,
keeping it fresh until we want to eat it. What then is life in us?
Chrysippus wrote more than seven hundred books, none survive.
(We have his bio in the Diogenes Laertius "Lives," and small
comments like the one Cicero preserved, about the pig.)
Imagine how much the man talked. Imagine how his daughters
felt, sitting in cafés, virgins listening to young lawyers. Lawyer
ready to move from mom to virgin ears, to part the aural curtain
to the heart of the flesh, to grease up and force his listener to stay,
pressure like a fork, squeezed down inner tubes to hidden narrow
chambers. The daughters, who could not listen anymore, worked
into first-date conversation, "Of course I've had it in the ear before."
There were no second dates. Fierce Chrysippus sisters, full of hate.
There were no surrenders. That’s why I'm so tender about my
resignation. Because all these years later a nation of one feels
like one too many. Caesar was tough, but not by himself
did he conquer Gaul. The superlative for all alone is all.
From this week's New Yorker.
Once again, the morning weather looked iffy -- and the afternoon weather involved thunderstorms with torrential rain and hail -- so rather than going to the pool after lunch, we went to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. It was fun on about the same level as the first movie -- perhaps down a tick because the gimmick is no longer novel and some of the exact gags are repeated, but for me, that was much more than made up for by Amy Adams' Amelia Earhart. I was petrified they'd write her as a love interest for Ben Stiller, and they toyed with that a bit -- you'd never know from this movie that Earhart was married to George Putnam -- but even if she's a bit more caricature than character, she's independent and fun-loving and hailed as a role model not only for women but everyone who wants to fly. The film was worth the flight of admission for me to see Earhart flying the Wright Brothers' plane through the Air & Space Museum, then flying her Lockheed Vega over the National Mall.
dementordelta asked me about her boyfriend Darth Vader in the movie, so in fairness I will report, for people who are not obsessed with Earhart like I am, that some of the other cameos don't work nearly so well. Robin Williams' Teddy Roosevelt is only in the movie for a couple of minutes; Pocahontas makes an appearance but she still doesn't get nearly enough to do, even though Custer (who's a buffoon) is actually willing to listen to her; and as for Vader, nearly his entire appearance is covered by the TV commercial (he doesn't speak, which is a blessing if they couldn't get James Earl Jones to do his voice, but he shares the tiny scene with Oscar the Grouch when they both want to join evil lisping villain Kahmunrah (who can't hold a candle to Michael Palin's evil lisping villains anyway), and they get ridiculed in favor of the equally preposterous Ivan the Terrible and Napoleon.
It's fair that all the historical figures act like cliches because they're waxworks come to life, but the Smithsonian has an actual Oscar muppet, so he should be more in character. At least anachronistic boyfriends Octavius and Jedediah have some wonderful moments both together and separately; Owen Wilson's Jed has the bigger role, but ironically it's the closest thing in the script to a damsel in distress, while Octavius gets to ride a squirrel and rescue him. There's not any family drama this time -- Larry's son appears as briefly as Teddy Roosevelt and is entirely supportive in a Galaxy Quest nerd sort of way. And the Smithsonian itself looks terrific, even if it has acquired a "Washington Art Museum" with such works as Rodin's Thinker that the National Gallery (not actually a part of the Smithsonian) doesn't have.
We had pizza with my parents to end Memorial Day weekend, then came home and watched a couple of episodes of the Slings & Arrows third season. I instinctively dislike Barbara, and sympathize greatly with Geoffrey when he calls her the Lizard Queen, which has been bothering me because not only is it unlike me to root against a strong female character even if the show seems biased against her, but I really dislike doing it when another character on the show is taking cheap shots about her ethnicity. And what's worst is that I agree with her interpretation of Goneril, which the white men who have all the power on the show are ridiculing. But tonight I had a revelation about her that made me laugh out loud: she's a wannabe Theatah Ahhctress who's nevertheless rich, famous, and happy to be both, all because of a huge sci-fi franchise! Name that star, hee!